Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Well I'll Be Jiggered - 2002

     We spent the night at the new Super 8 motel in The Pas. Even got there early enough to get a pizza and a couple of ales at the bar and grill across the parking lot. That may not sound like a big deal but this was the first time we rolled into The Pas before sunset. Things were flowing smoothly and we were in no hurry. Our goal for the morning was to be rested, somehow cross Reed Lake, camp near the portage, and maybe get in some evening fishing. Reed was noted for big pike and lake trout and who were we to say no to that possibility? The Canadian weather channel said the morning would bring mostly fair skies and light breezes. Things were looking good.
     A few days earlier I was visited by one of those portentous dreams I get now and then that seem to have something important to say but usually have me scratching my head in the morning and wondering, "What the hell was that all about?" In this one Allan and I drove under a massive log gateway that welcomed us to the Reed Lake access and campground. The place was crawling with tourists and looked like an amusement park. A few hundred yards ahead huge pleasure boats puttered by on the water. Not at all what we were expecting when beginning a paddle into the Canadian bush. As usual, I wrote the dream off as another cryptic message about something not at all related to the pictures in the dream.
     Both Allan and I were bubbly, pumped, excited, you name it, that's what we were, on our drive to the Reed Lake access. Along the way, about twenty miles from our goal, we passed a series of bays along the south side of big Simonhouse Lake. Could have been the second that caught our eye. In all our winter thoughts and daydreaming, not once did we see the piles of lake ice lining the lake's shore. Didn't take but a single glance for our bubbles to freeze. Moments later we hung a left into the Simonhouse access with hopes of finding reassurance, a pat on the back, and a 'there, there, it's okay.'      A tour of the lanes led us to the lone party of American fishermen and their storehouse of liquor. Yup, their booze had its own tent. Never seen that before and from the looks of the fishermen they were having a hard time seeing anything also. There we learned the ice had come off the lake two days earlier and that lake trout may as well have been called Canadian carp for all they were worth. While we talked, one of the good old boys stood up, said he had to go take a leak, turned around, and let fire. Having learned all we needed to know and being thankful for dry shoes, we slowly backed away and continued on our way to destiny.
     Twenty minutes later we entered Reed's driveway. Thankfully there was no massive, timbered gate. However, there was a crowd of paunched, plaid-shirted fishermen milling about who seemed to have lost their direction in life. A glance at ice-bound Reed told the story. In the thirty yards of open water along the shore a twenty foot walleye boat puttered by. Damnation! Sometimes my dreams are a curse. We parked, climbed out, and approached a man with tears in his eyes crying, "Only the second time in seventeen years this has happened. Lord, Lord, why me?"
     Lucky for us, we had backup plans B and C. Both were created with the idea crossing Reed would scare the pants off of us. B would have taken us along a possibly protected south shore and eventually down the Grass River to Tramping Lake. The ice said that was out so we went with plan C, hopped back in the Jeep, and roared off, backtracking ten miles to the access on Lake Iskwasum. Once again our bubbles inflated knowing that in less than an hour we were heading to points unknown (and unexpected).

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